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Growing Rosemary

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 23 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Growing Rosemary Harvesting Rosemary

Rosemary is one of the most commonly grown herbs in the garden. It is a decorative herb originating from the Mediterranean and bears small, blue or white flowers in late spring. It is a fantastically versatile herb in the kitchen, sprigs of rosemary can be added to roast vegetable medleys and to meats, including roast lamb. Rosemary is an evergreen, perennial shrub that thrives in good soil in full sun.

Rosemary is a hardy plant and will live for up to twenty years, growing to a height of around 1m. It requires minimal pruning and attention throughout the growing season.

Varieties of Rosemary

There are many varieties of rosemary:

    Rosmarinus Officinalis – this is the traditional variety; it grows to about 1m tall.

    Rosemary Capri – this is a dwarf variety that only grows to 10cm tall (ideal for smaller gardens or containers).

    Rosemary Genes Gold – this type is compact and has yellow edged leaves.

    Growing Rosemary

    Rosemary prefers a light, sandy soil of medium to low fertility. However, rosemary will tolerate most growing conditions, as long as it is not waterlogged. Rosemary is difficult to grow from seed and is best bought as small plants from the garden centre. However rosemary can be propagated from cuttings. Take cuttings from a healthy plant in May or June. Using a sharp knife, take cuttings roughly 7.5cm from young shoots torn off at the stem. Strip the leaves from the lower 4cm of the cutting. Fill a 7.5cm pot with a mixture of sharp sand and standard potting compost and insert up to four cuttings around the edge of the pot. Water the compost from below and place in a propagator or cover it with a plastic bag. Place the pot on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. The cuttings should have grown roots within about 8-10 weeks. Transplant them into individual pots and transplant into the ground when they have developed a healthy root ball.

    Transplanting Rosemary

    Rosemary should be planted outside in April. Dig a hole slightly larger than the size of its pot and add a handful of sand to the bottom of the hole. Place the plant in the hole and replace the soil around it, firming gently. Water the plant well and ensure the soil does not dry out until it is established.

    Caring for Rosemary

    Rosemary requires very little attention. It should not need feeding as it thrives on low fertile soils and will tolerate very dry conditions, once established. Prune the plant every autumn to keep the plant to the ideal size for your garden. It is also worth staking the plant to protect it from very strong winds.

    Growing Rosemary in a Container

    Rosemary is well suited to container growing, however you will need to use a large, deep pot as rosemary can grow up to 1m tall and has long, deep roots. Fill the pot with a mixture of sharp sand or grit and potting compost. Make a hole in the compost and place the plant in the centre, making sure the top of its root ball comes below the rim of the pot. Water the plant well and more compost around the area if necessary. Keep the container well watered during the summer months.

    Rosemary is a great herb to grow in the garden. It is very easy to grow and will last for years. It can be added to a wide range of dishes and can be harvested all year round.

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    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
    New Gardener - Your Question:
    We moved house last year and have inherited a large straggly mature rosemary in the front garden that we want to get rid of. But, we also want to create a low narrow hedge of rosemary underneath a fence in the back garden as a low border. I thought we could solve both problems if we could take cuttings of the large plant in the front and use them in the back garden - but can we plant cuttings straight into the ground and let them grow there rather than putting into small pots? The border we want to create is about 10" deep and is currently just a strip of gravel, so we'd need to give it some soil (not sure what kind!), but thought once the rosemary was planted we could put the gravel back around the plants as a weed suppressor and to keep it tidy/mediterranean looking? The garden is south facing, and being next to a fence I thought the new border would be pretty sheltered to cuttings straight into the ground might work? Maybe?!

    Our Response:
    Some people say they've done this successfully with rosemary with good gritty compost/soil but we would pot first then plant out.
    HerbExpert - 25-May-17 @ 12:11 PM
    We moved house last year and have inherited a large straggly mature rosemary in the front garden that we want to get rid of. But, we also want to create a low narrow hedge of rosemary underneath a fence in the back garden as a low border. I thought we could solve both problems if we could take cuttings of the large plant in the front and use them in the back garden - but can we plant cuttings straight into the ground and let them grow there rather than putting into small pots? The border we want to create is about 10" deep and is currently just a strip of gravel, so we'd need to give it some soil (not sure what kind!), but thought once the rosemary was planted we could put the gravel back around the plants as a weed suppressor and to keep it tidy/mediterranean looking? The garden is south facing, and being next to a fence I thought the new border would be pretty sheltered to cuttings straight into the ground might work? Maybe?!
    New Gardener - 23-May-17 @ 3:54 PM
    Hi We have a Rosemary 'tree' in the back of our garden which has been there for years.Shortly after we moved in the neighbours replaced their fence which the tree was attached to and resulted in the tree lying on the floor.We found it had a 'bend' in the trunk.So in an attempt to save it we scratched the cover off the inside part of the bend and stood the tree up again with the intention that the 'injured' bend would grow into the rest of the trunk.It looks like that has worked as the tree can now stand up by itself without anything holding it up BUT all the leaves have died.I don't want to let go/give up yet but I am unsure if our tree is dead or just healing itself to later bloom again.Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you so much :)
    Piet - 13-May-17 @ 11:04 AM
    I recently bought 4 Rosemary Plants. I planted them fully on compost soil and put 2 outside and 2 inside. All 4 of them died, the outside 2 has it's soil all wet and drenched when the inside one is all dried. Now I try another chance and water it less frequently (just mist it a bit) but it still turning brown from down to top. What should I do?
    James - 31-Aug-16 @ 1:26 PM
    Bea - Your Question:
    I have had my Rosemary plant for a few years but last year it seemed to be dry and the leaves shrivelled I took some cuttings & planted them but they have also gone the same do I take the plant out?

    Our Response:
    It's possible the roots had/have root rot, it might be better to try a fresh plant completely.
    HerbExpert - 5-Apr-16 @ 10:19 AM
    I have had my Rosemary plant for a few years but last year it seemed to be dry and the leaves shrivelled I took some cuttings & planted them but they have also gone the same do I take the plant out?
    Bea - 2-Apr-16 @ 9:30 AM
    why have all my rosemary plants died?
    bushhhh - 27-Dec-15 @ 6:39 PM
    I live just outside London.I had a rosemary bush in my front garden that thrived without attention. It grew massive and must have been five foot tall.I have moved house since. Two years ago I bought a new healthy rosemary plant.This I transferred to a large pot outside, where it has remained.England is not the driest of countries, but if it hasn't rained for a week it looks decidedly sick and loses its healthy green colour.I have to water it during every dry spell, more often than many other plants.I intend to plant it in the garden next spring and hope that it can cope without extra watering.Yet my experience seems to contradict all the advice given by experts.
    Basil - 2-Oct-15 @ 11:28 PM
    my rosemary is leggy and ragged, but healthy and just re-planted. I understand I cannot prune it till Autumn, but how vicious can I be to regain a nice shape, do I presume that it's correct to leave on some green? It has long woody stems now, with a head of green and I like to make it's shape more aesthetic. Would welcome any advice. Thankyou Jesse
    Jeska - 21-Feb-14 @ 11:21 AM
    Rosemary is a delight and very useful. It's also quite ornamental in the garden, although it can grow into a gnarled bush if not looked after. It certainly flourishes well in a large container. Although it loves the sun, even the wet British climate won't kill it; thankfully it's very hardy. Most people are best with the dwarf variety as you probably won't end up using that much in foods. The chances are it will last longer in your house than you do.
    Sarah - 23-Jun-12 @ 10:03 AM
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